At his silver jubilee, Fr. Bader: 'God's love and people's love is the gold itself'

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At his silver jubilee, Fr. Bader: 'God's love and people's love is the gold itself'

Amman-en.abouna.org

Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader celebrated his silver jubilee of priesthood during the solemn thanksgiving Holy Mass he celebrated at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Our Lady of Peace Center in Amman on July 2.

In his homily, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan Bishop William Shomali addressed Fr. Bader. He said, "I thank you for inviting me to participate in this dear anniversary, and for taking part in thanking God for the gifts and talents that have been dedicated to you to serve our parishioners and believers in the Church of dear Jordan since your priestly ordination in the Church of Misdar in 1995. In the name of all the attendees, I wholeheartedly congratulate you and wish you success in the next stages of your service." He added, "The priest is God's envoy to the people and at the same time people's envoy to God. In the Almighty God's name, the priest teaches the believers, blesses them with the seven sacraments, establishes communities of believers, and presents to God the people's requests and daily needs.

Bishop Shomali quoted St. John Paul II statement which states that priesthood is a gift and a sacrament. He said: “It is really a big sacrament. Why did Lord Christ choose the simple Galilean fishermen to be His messengers? Could he not find people who were more knowledgeable, more educated, and more suitable for this responsibility? Certainly, it was possible. But He did not do so. He chose simple fishermen to be his messengers and to spread his mission throughout the world. This is what Paul said in the second reading to the Corinthians: 'We have given that service mercy, so we do not call ourselves anything but to serve you for the sake of Christ.'

What encourages us is that so long that Lord Jesus Christ chooses someone for a certain mission, and then He will gives him the necessary grace that enables him to achieve that mission. He is the One who makes calls, accompanies, forgives, strengthens, and turns sinners into saints, as He did with Peter the fisherman and with Saul, who persecuted the Church. "

He also affirmed that "the priesthood vocation is also a gift. It is a gift to humans and to humanity. Through ordination, the priest becomes able to speak and act in the name of Jesus in three areas, namely preaching the gospel, celebrating the sacraments, and serving as a guide to the faithful community.

Addressing Fr. Bader he said that "in modern secular society, it is not enough to preach the Holy Gospel from the pulpit. We must use other methods, including modern media. O father Rif'at, God enabled you to start your priestly service with the advent of the social media revolution and the availability of the Internet. You entered this world when you were a parish priest in Smakiyeh township. You established the abouna.org website which became popular and was chosen in 2013 as the best Arabic language Christian site. Through this site, you have been posting religious and ecclesiastical news, events, Holy Masses, important ceremonies, Sunday sermons, as well as religious and cultural articles that nurture the mind and the heart. During the Corona crisis, your site entered the homes at a time when these homes turned into house churches so that while the churches were closed, the houses became home churches that gave people hope, grace, and spiritual strength. We know that our celebration is now being live-streamed so that the largest number of the believers can take part in.

He continued saying, "Lord Christ called on you to become a priest and you accepted this. The bishop wiped your palms with sacred oil, a quarter of a century ago, giving you the authority to offer the Holy Communion to people. You also present yourself daily with the Holy Communion of Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of the world. For 25 years, you have been faithfully serving the people of God, and preaching the word of God. The believers who gather here today, whom you have served in various parishes, are grateful to you and pray for you so that you could continue your message with the same enthusiasm that dwells in your heart today."

The Latin Patriarchal Vicar concluded his homily by saying: “Fr. Rif'at, Lord Jesus Christ has chosen you, trusted you, and has no alternative plan for you. Remain committed to your vocation and the priestly goal you chose as you became a priest at the prime of your youth: For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness. (Psalm 17:28) May the Lord maintain your lamp as a light that shines on people. May God bless you, and may your Virgin Mother Mary project you all the time. Amen."

At the end of the Silver Jubilee Mass, Fr. Rif'at Bader delivered an address which he started by referring to the opening of the Synod of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land in 1995 which preceded his ordination by a few days. He said: “From that very day, I considered myself a synod priest, in the heart of the local church, the living church, as well as the faithful and confident Church despite the sorrows of the time.”

Fr. Bader recalled what Patriarch Michel Sabbah during his priestly ordination, where he said: “The society to which you are sent today needs unity and love at all levels, namely the inter-Christian community in the same parish and in the same diocese, and among the different Churches which have different religious rites. The fields of serving love, the ecumenical service, and servicing interfaith dialogue are among the priorities of the mission today, even if it seems to you sometimes, or rather several times, that going in this direction is against the current. I point out that "after a quarter of a century from that year of the synod and the priesthood, the dream was beautiful, and the weight was heavy. The events required a lot of moving against the current, but at the same time it was a collective march, namely ecclesiastical, prophetic, priestly, and royal."

I also thank all those who dressed my candle with oil.

Fr. Bader thanked Lord Jesus Christ, "the Good and Faithful Shepherd", for every person who received from the Lord, at his hands, the sacraments, and for everyone he guided towards the holy priesthood. In this regard, he recalled the patriarchs and bishops, the members of the seminary, his late parents, his family, his brethren priests" with whom he had brotherly and priestly relations over the past years. He also thanked the nuns from the various denominations, and all the people he served over the past 25 years, in particular his current parishioners of Na'our, and his parishioners in Wahadneh as well as all those who came to attend his priestly silver jubilee.

Fr. Bader also thanked the Almighty God for the "grace of the media", as he was honored to work in this field for quarter of a century which "brought up a twinship between his priestly work and his media work. He also thanked the employees of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media, and the websites of abouna.org, who work jointly in difficult times. He also thanked all those who cooperated with him including local, Arab and international media channels.

Pointing out that “the media work is not easy, as it requires sometimes to move against the current, and sometimes one becomes misunderstood, he said, "But, I tell you with confidence that I never meant to offend anyone, to violate anyone's dignity, or even to instigate insulting others. I failed sometimes. I was even misunderstood on several occasions. In this Holy Mass I implore the Lord's forgiveness of all my past sins, whether in my pastoral life, in my priestly life, or in my media life. Be assured that it hurts me most, even while crying on silent nights, when I learn about someone being insulted, or killed because of one's opinion, color, or faith."

Concluding his address, Fr. Bader conveyed well-wishes to his dear homeland, Jordan with its national unity between its Muslims and Christians. He also sent greetings to His Majesty King Abdullah II Ben Al-Hussein, the Hashemite leadership, and to everyone who works wholeheartedly for the good of the country particularly in these difficult times, (the Corona pandemic) including our Arab Army, our security apparatuses, and the health cadres who are devoted to serve the people.

Conveying greetings all those in attendance from fraternal Churches and all those who sent electronic well-wishes, Fr. Bader said: "All those who wish me well say 'may you celebrate the golden jubilee of priesthood'. I rather say that God's love and your love in particular is the gold itself. Thank you. May the Lord bless you.

In another address delivered by Sister Caroline Bader on behalf of the nuns of the Bader Family, she said, "Fr. Rif'at Bader was a hero who acted behind the scenes, during the Corona pandemic. For besides being a spiritual father he was also a media man. He streamed events with faith, optimism and hymns that bring reassurance. He was never absent from this scene as he was the spiritual doctor who instilled tranquility. We thank you, as well as express gratitude and appreciation for your exorbitant efforts in your glittering silver jubilee, hoping that you will always remain an icon of strength and a symbol of tranquility."

At the end of her address, Sister Caroline presented Father Bader with a shield.

In attendance were Latin Patriarchal Vicar Jordan Bishop William Shomali, Patriarch Emeritus Fouad Twal, Archbishop of the Melkite Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Petra and Philadelphia and Entire Jordan Bishop Joseph Jbarah, Bishop Salim Sayegh, Secretary General of the Council Churches in Jordan Fr. Ibrahim Dabbour who represented Greek Orthodox Archbishop Christoforos Atallah, in addition to a number of heads of Churches and representatives of Catholic, Orthodox and protestant churches.

Further attendance included Chargé d'Affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature in Amman Monsignor Mauro Lalli, Latin Patriarchate priests, nuns, deacons, acolytes. Relatives of the celebrating priest, employees of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan, Sacred Heart of Jesus Church parishioners, and a large number of people.

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